November 19, 2018

Weekly Reflection – There Are No Words

Weekly Reflection – There Are No Words

There are no words, is how many folks respond to great tragedy. Neal Katz is a Jewish Rabbi in Tyler, Texas has words of wisdom he recently shared.  I was particularly struck by the words he shared after this week’s shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.  The one sentence that stands out most to me is, Our strength moving forward is that our community loves more than it fears. Rabbi Katz’ response is an example we Christians might strive to emulate, especially if we live lives of intense persecution as do so many of the students at NationsUniversity.

Blessings and peace,

Chaplain Allen


We are all shocked by the news this morning coming out of Pittsburgh. An antisemitic attack on the Tree of Life synagogue – during Shabbat services – took multiple lives and injured many more – including police officers. In moments like these, people often say there are “no words.” But my community does have words.

We have words of peace:  May the one who makes peace in the heavens, make peace for us and all the people Israel. (Jewish Prayerbook)

We have words of comfort:  May God console you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. (Jewish Funeral Service)

We have words of contemplation: God gives and God takes: Blessed be God’s name. (Job 1)

We have words of strength: May God give strength unto God’s people, and may God bless His people with peace. (Psalm 29)

Words of protection: Keep far from us all evil; May our paths be free from all obstacles from when we go out until we return home. (Jewish Prayerbook)

Words of resolve: Though I walk through a valley of deepest darkness, I fear no harm, for You are with me. (Psalm 23)

And we have words of love: How deeply You have loved us Adonai, our God, gracing us with surpassing compassion! (Jewish Prayerbook)

Yes, we have words. And let us use our words carefully. Yes, there are people in our midst who are overtly anti-semitic – or even dog whistle anti-semitism – they should be shunned and shamed in our community. They represent the worst of us. But our strength moving forward is not in the depravity of anti-Semites.

Our strength moving forward is that our community loves more than it fears. We are blessed to be surrounded by friends and family and neighbors and holy collaborators who give us strength and love as we process this tragedy.

We send our love to Pittsburgh and we grieve with them and for them.

To peace,

Read more reflections, The Balance of Cancer